Thursday 13 September 2018, 12:51

Russia 2018 fairy tale in the eyes of the fans

  • Russia exceeded all expectations at the World Cup on home soil

  • The team’s quarter-final finish has regained the affection of the fans

  • We re-live the host’s performances through the eyes of those watching on

Imagine the expectations of a team that had lost four and won none of their previous seven fixtures heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and were ranked lowest on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking out of the 32 competing nations.

Russia have rarely impressed at international tournaments in recent history, so the fans’ pessimism prior to the World Cup on home soil was completely understandable. However, even the most optimistic supporter could not have foreseen what happened as Stanislav Cherchesov’s side defied all predictions to reach the quarter-finals, where they lost to finalists Croatia on penalties.

The memories of those extraordinary moments in June and July are still fresh in the minds of Russian supporters, who gave their perspective on the Sbornaya’s performance in the video above.

“After the first three goals we stopped asking if this was really happening,” said Gleb Milovanov, recalling Russia’s perfect start in the 5-0 victory against Saudi Arabia. “It all seemed like a dream, but nevertheless the expectations ahead of the decisive match against Egypt weren’t that high.”

Russia then went on to beat Egypt 3-1. “We started to believe in the team when we realised Russia had qualified from the group,” added Lada Alekseeva. “There was hope and an unbelievable surge in support.”

This support helped the hosts overcome Spain in the Round of 16 on penalties and then almost go the whole way against Croatia for a spot in the semi-finals. Despite eventually losing that match, the team were welcomed as heroes at the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow.

“It’s not just that our team achieved a result that nobody expected or that they played admirably,” Gleb continued. “The most important thing was that they showed the supporters that they did it for them.”

The 2018 fairy tale is continuing for the Russian national team as they beat Turkey 2-1 away from home in the UEFA Nations League at the start of September and followed that up with a 5-1 thrashing of the Czech Republic at home. Their fans are currently on top of the world.